The week’s highlights – Semana de Autor and Bach in FAC
This week’s hottest cultural highlights come in the form of a musical collaboration between Cuban and Spanish singers (three of each to be precise) taking to the stage at Havana’s iconic Museo de Bellas Artes to give a one-off special performance.
It’s all happening this Saturday at 7 p.m. as the culmination of the Semana de Autor (Singer-songwriter Week)and it will take place at the museum’s theatre. This event is special because it unites three Cuban musicians: Adrian Berazain, Papa Humbertico and Yanaysa Prieto Pedroso, all of whom are multi-talented composers, producers and singers.
They all will be joining three exceptional Spanish musicians: Alberto Alcala, Adrian Carreras and Electric Nana, encompassing three generations of talent and including music genres as varied as flamenco, copla, tango, pop folk, trove and bossa nova.
This Saturday’s concert will be the climax and finishing touch of a creative project that kicked off on 2nd November and saw the six musicians gather in Havana for five intensive days, getting their ideas together to put on a very special performance with the contribution of all artists. Don’t miss it!
On the other hand and of a very different nature is my next musical suggestion this week if you’re in Havana. In celebration of what would have been Bach’s 330th birthday and paying tribute to the talented German classical musician, Fabrica de Arte Cubano has come up with a special Bach en La Habana (Bach in Havana) festival and to mark the occasion a series of concerts featuring some of Bach’s most famous pieces will be performed at the popular Vedado venue.
Between today and tomorrow (5th and 6th November) different Cuban schools of music will be performing with the participation of professional musicians who, in one way or another, have incorporated the work of Johann Sebastian Bach to their repertoire.
The first concert session will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. with the participation of music schools whilst the second session held at 9 p.m. will be led by professional artists.
The Music Scene in Havana
Beyond those two special events mentioned earlier Havana still packs a powerful punch in terms of nightly live entertainment. From the usual salsa groups taking to the stage at some of the city’s most popular salsa venues to the usual jazz jamming sessions and a spot of alternative Cuban music in the form of trova, pop fusion and traditional sounds, you’ll find a bit of it all in my personal calendar selection, lovingly handpicked for your perusal and entertainment.
What's on tonight - Thursday 5th November
If you’re itching to put your dancing shoes on many salsa acts are taking over the city tonight, so you’ve got quite a selection to choose from.
If you want to make sure you don’t miss out on one of Cuba’s most famous and popular salsa bands of all time, head to the Piano Bar Tun Tun in Casa de la Musica de Miramar at 11 p.m. to enjoy the live performance by NG La Banda and its leading award-winning musician, Jose Luis Cortes (a.k.a. El Tosco).
If you’ve heard NG La Banda perform before and you fancy getting acquainted with other big shots in Cuba’s salsa scene then head to the Casa de la Musica de Miramar at 11 p.m. to dance to the sounds of Leonel Limonta y Azúcar Negra.
Alternatively, you can escape the whole salsa buzz and go for some jazz at the Corner Cafe with Zule Guerra performing at 10 p.m.
But for the surprise pick of the night you're better off heading to Fabrica de Arte Cubano to listen to the melodic sounds of an exceptional Cuban virtuoso and trumpeteer, Yasek Manzano, who will be giving a special performance tonight at 11 p.m. A disciple of famous trumpetist Winston Marsalis, this young Cuban musician was schooled in the purest American jazz and fed his roots, giving them a unique personal touch and style. His talent is now widely recognised in Cuba and the jazz world. Be there!
Friday 6th November - a pick between Cuban rock or Cuban "filin"
If you’re in the mood for a bit of rock n’ roll to kick-start the night then Submarino Amarillo facing the aptly named Parque Lennon is the place to hit, with a performance by Cuban cover band Gens taking to the stage at 9 p.m. You won’t regret paying them a visit – it’s a great way to start the night, whether you’re happy to stay ‘till later for the rocking DJ session or you decide to hit another clubbing venue afterwards.
If salsa is hot on your list this Friday your best bet still is going to see Jose Luis Cortes y NG La Banda performing live at the Casa de la Musica de Miramar at 11 p.m. Or, if you’ve already enjoyed a performance by them this week, Monika Mesa will be delivering her sultry salsa show at El Turquino nightclub in the Habana Libre Hotel.
But if you fancy an early nightcap after a hectic sightseeing day and what you’re seeking this Friday in Havana is some mellow tunes to unwind and chill with some authentic Cuban “filin” then the Hotel Telegrafo is the place to head to at 8 p.m. Ivette Cepeda will be belting out her romantic ballads and classic boleros for a night to remember, especially if accompanied by a special someone.
Saturday 7th November – soulful jazz or salsa beats
If in need of a bit of salsa to awaken your senses or as the perfect pick-me-up dancing session you could start the night off by heading to the Centro Cultural Bertolt Brecht and dance to the infectious salsa tune of David Blanco and his band. It’s on at 10 p.m. And if you want to carry on with the salsa party after this show is finished you can catch Lazaro Valdes y Bamboleo later on at 11 p.m. at the Casa de la Musica de Miramar.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer to start your Saturday night with a little bit of uplifting rock, then El Diablo Tun Tun at the Casa de la Musica de Miramar will be your venue, as popular Cuban rock band Gens will be giving one of their stellar performances as the clock strucks 10 p.m.
But if jazz is your thing then your best bet for the night is at the Café Miramar, where accomplished Cuban saxophonist and winner of the 2005 edition of International Jazz Festival “JoJazz”. His performance will start at 10.30 p.m. so ensure you make your way there in time for a night of sultry tunes to remember.
Sunday 8th November – a rising young star performing at King Bar
To give a resounding finish to the end of the weekend this Sunday has more surprises packed in that you would believe.
To start things off you could go for an early afternoon salsa performance at the Casa de la Musica de Miramar. Salsa band Lazaro Valdes y Bamboleo will be giving a hip-shaking performance from 5 p.m.
If rock or jazz is more what you’re in the mood for then you have two places to take your pick from later on in the evening this Sunday . To see local rock band Los Kents perform at Havana’s number one rock venue, be at the Submarino Amarillo at 9 p.m. If you then want to follow this up with a bit of relaxing jazz and blues then head to the Fabrica de Arte Cubano at 11 p.m. to catch the second performance of the week by Zule Guerra.
Now for the wild card of the day - mixing popular Latin beats like plena, pop, reggae, salsa, ballad and fusion pop, Alejandro Boue is a Cuban rising star to watch out for. An emerging Cuban artist that’s recently been on the spotlight with songs like “Dame Fiesta” and “La Medicina” this refreshing new face of fusion Cuban music to dance to will be performing at King Bar this Sunday at 10 p.m.
Monday 9th November – join the conga line or unwind with blues
As Monday gives way to the start of another working week the choice of music venues for partying the night away is not as varied as during the weekend (as is to be reasonably expected) but still, Havana is always buzzing with some salsa beats, some good old jazz tunes and even a spot of conga and carnival music giving you the perfect excuse for a conga line!
If you want to start things early head to Casa de la Musica de Miramar to listen to charismatic Wil Campa and his band, performing great salsa songs to dance to from 5 p.m.
If you want to be moved by the conga beats of Cuba’s legendary band from Santiago, Sur Caribe, then stay put at Casa de la Musica de Miramar (if that’s where you were hanging out earlier) to enjoy their intoxicating performance at 11 p.m.
Alternatively if you want jazz you should head to La Zorra y el Cuervo at 11 p.m. where blues singer Zule Guerra will be giving another stellar performance.
Tuesday 10th November - Cuban fusion music is king
This Tuesday the choice for an authentic night out might be slightly less varied but by no means limited!
If you want to discover the best of contemporary Cuban fusion music then I suggest you start things off early at the Café Cantante Mi Habana. Be there at 5 p.m. to enjoy some good quality tunes by singer and composer Raul Paz.
To kick things up a notch and salsa the night way head to the Casa de la Musica de Miramar or the Casa de La Musica de Centro Habana. In the former popular salsa band Pedrito Calvo y La Justicia will be performing at 11 p.m. and in the latter Jose Luis Cortes y NG LA Banda will be putting on one of their brilliant shows at the same time.
If you want a bit of something different and 100% authentically Cuba, head to the Centro Cultural Bertolt Brecht at 10 p.m. to enjoy the peculiar fusion music style of Roberto Carcasses and Interactivo.
Wednesday 11th November – variety is the spice of life
For an encounter with salsa this coming Wednesday you can go for an early dancing session at the Casa de La Musica de Centro Habana. Popular salsa band Pedrito Calvo y La Justicia will be performing here again, this time at 5 p.m.
If you fancy more salsa later on in the evening, head to the same place at 11 p.m. to enjoy the first-class salsa quality of NG La Banda.
If on the other hand you fancy exploring Cuba’s colourful alternative music scene the Café Cantante Mi Habana is the place to be at 5 p.m. to catch a performance by Qva Libre, always putting on a lively show that gets everyone on their feet.
But if you want to explore Cuba’s version of Latin Jazz in more depth then you’ve got a date with Roberto Carcasses and Interactivo, performing at the Centro Cultural Bertolt Brecht for the second night in a row, also at 10 p.m. this time.
The Arts – Puppet shows takes over Havana with Titeres al Centro
Lovers of the skilful art of animating puppets and making stories come to life through colourful wooden or fabric characters will be in for a treat if they happen to be in Havana this week as the city celebrates “Titeres al Centro” - a very special project celebrated from 3rd to 8th November that will see a number of workshops, conferences and puppet theatre performances taking place all over the city at various theatres, public spaces, squares, parks, neighbourhoods and even workplaces!
If you want to catch some of the puppeteering action then the Sala Teatro Abdala will be the festival’s main venue so if you’re in Havana I’d suggest you get there to find out more details about presentations, workshops and puppet shows for all ages. You’ll find it at No.1 Honorato del Castillo Street, between Independencia and Joaquin Aguero streets. The puppet festival in Havana this year is dedicated to one of the country’s biggest puppet theatre companies, the Teatro de las Estaciones (Seasons Theatre) and its director, Ruben Dario Salazar.
For lovers of the plastic arts a new exhibition will be on show at the multi-use Fabrica de Arte Cubano. It kicked off yesterday at 5 p.m. and consisted of a personal exhibition by Cuban artist, Rui Lacerda called La Pared Negra: Sentir Cuba (The Black Wall: Feeling Cuba). As part of the exhibition, there will be an architecture section devoted to displaying some of his projects and works.
On another hand, the gallery Espacio Abierto in Havana is currently showing a collective exhibition entitled “Nota al Pie” – a project that links contemporary art with an individual’s learning processes “through a playful reading of art appreciation that creates a method to understand". Participating in this collective exhibition are the following Cuban artists: Hander Lara, Yonlay Cabrera Quindemil, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, Carlos Becerra, Iván Perera, Ernesto Domecq, Ranfis Suárez, Alein Somonte, Lisbet Ballart, Aluan Argüelles, Yacel Yzquierdo, Liuby Hernández, Alexis Jacas, Yoanny Aldaya, Rafael Villares.
For families and children
A special exhibition of Cuban kites will be on display at the Casa Oswaldo Guayasamin all throughout the month of November. With all kites designed by budding little artists this special collection of works celebrates the start of the 2014-2016 school year and the 22nd edition of this workshop.
For something a little more interactive, take your little ones to see the Teatro de Munecos Okantomi at the Teatro Nacional Guiñol in Havana, where a puppet show of the traditional fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel” will be staged every Saturday throughout November with one morning session at 11 a.m. and one evening session at 5 p.m. The same show will also be presented every Friday in November at 3 p.m., starting today – so if planning a family Cuba holiday in Havana this November, you know where to head on the weekend!
Coming up soon – The world’s biggest “rueda de casino” to be held in Havana
Next 25th November Havana will get ready to break a Guiness record as over one thousand couples simultaneously dance along as part of one giant salsa wheel (otherwise known as “rueda de casino” and endemic only to Cuba). Organisers will attempt to enter the record for the largest ever synchronised salsa dancing ring of its kind in an event that will be watched by an international audience. Keep your eyes here if you want to find out how the salsa-dancing record-breaking went.